BEAUFORT SCALES: a new work by Christopher Cerrone
Lorelei Ensemble collaborates with GRAMMY-nominated composer Christopher Cerrone and internationally-recognized projection artist Hannah Wasileski to create Beaufort Scales, a 40-minute, semi-staged work for eight voices (SSSSMMAA). Inspired by a poetic table of wind measurements from the 19th century, Beaufort Scales traces a trajectory from placidity (“Sea like a mirror / Smoke rises vertically”) to calamity. The original scale—12 steps, two hundred words—is the scaffolding for an exploration of changing weather phenomenon in our modern era. Cerrone treats Beaufort’s original text as a moiré, interweaving texts from authors throughout history—Melville, Teju Cole, Anne Carson—to create a kaleidoscopic view of weather, all headed towards an inexorable climax: “The air is filled with foam and spray / Devastation.” Beaufort Scales is a cautionary tale in the era of climate change.
Beaufort Scales will serve as the center-piece of Lorelei’s Spring 2022 touring program, alongside works of Meredith Monk and Molly Herron, with projected performances across the United States over the course of two 10-day touring periods, following its world premiere in Boston in February 2022. Development of the musical and projection material will occur August-December 2021, with Cerrone, Wasileski, and Lorelei Artistic Director Beth Willer coordinating remotely. Rehearsals with Lorelei vocal artists will occur in January 2022 over the course of a 7-day workshop to unite the newly created music, projection, and lighting design by Yi Zhao.
Christopher Cerrone is internationally acclaimed for compositions characterized by a subtle handling of timbre and resonance, a deep literary fluency, and a flair for multimedia collaborations. Balancing lushness and austerity, immersive textures and telling details, dramatic impact and interiority, Cerrone’s music is utterly compelling and uniquely his own. His recent album “The Pieces that Fall to Earth,” in collaboration with Wild Up! earned him a 2020 GRAMMY nomination.
Hannah Wasileski describes her design and experience working with music: “I am fascinated by the potential of the moving image to push beyond the boundaries of a filmic or photographic vocabulary, and seek to explore and investigate the endless possibilities the medium has to offer. I also am deeply inspired by the interplay of music and the moving image, and how one can inform and enrich the other to create transformative and immersive experiences. My background as a classically trained violinist has always been the root of my visual work; I became involved in video and time-based visual art because of my desire to explore visual expression in relationship to music.”
Lorelei Ensemble is committed to crafting a new normal for women in music through commissioning, performance and education. We are particularly committed to commissioning extended multi-movement works — a subgenre that is severely lacking in the repertoire for women’s voices. This particular project not only fulfills our mission through its bold expansion of the repertoire, but also powerfully addresses the most profound problem of our time: climate change, and the extreme weather that is sure to shape our planet and future life for years to come.
Invisible Cities is a chillingly beautiful opera by Christopher Cerrone based on Italo Calvino’s classic novel that depicts a meeting between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan in which the explorer recounts fantastical stories about the cities he’s seen on his travels.
(view excerpts at 14:07, 18:54, 57:36)
Recorded by Lorelei Ensemble as part of their 2018 “Impermanence” album, on the Sono Luminus label.
A sample of digital design for live performance by Hannah Wasileski.
The Wreckers is a mid 18th-century opera in three acts, composed in 1904 by Ethel Smyth to a libretto by Henry Brewster. This is the preliminary design for the overture of the opera, which was adapted for the stage and projected onto the scenery for the first full American staging at Bard SummerScape in 2015.
Start and End Dates
08/01/2021 — 05/31/2022